Top ten ideas selected for promoting public awareness of hearing health

David Kirkwood
December 19, 2012

NAERUM, DENMARK–A mnemonic device featuring three wise monkeys, a campaign to make hairdressers more mindful of their clients’ hearing loss, and a “hearing loss” flavor of ice cream are among the ten finalists in the Ida Institute’s worldwide competition “Ideas, Speak up – Action and Awareness for Hearing Loss.”

Since April 2012 when the Oticon Foundation and the non-profit Ida Institute announced the initiative, more than 1300 people have contributed ideas to create public awareness of hearing loss, put hearing loss on the public agenda, and encourage people to take action. Last week, Ida announced its selection of the top 10 ideas, though it did not disclose the names of the people who submitted them.

“The Ideas Campaign sparked the creativity and passion of people from around the world,” said Ida Institute’s managing director, Lise Lotte Bundesen. “While the ideas generated are as unique and varied as the contributors, all focus on bringing hearing health and hearing loss into the mainstream of public awareness.”

The institute will develop implementation plans for the top 10 ideas that expand on their awareness-building potential. In January, a panel of judges, made up of thought leaders in a variety of hearing and health care, innovation, and communication disciplines, will select the three winning ideas. These will be celebrated at the AudiologyNOW! 2013 conference, April 3-6 in Anaheim, CA.

The judges are Brenda Battat, executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America; Tom Healy, writer, poet, and chairman of the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Board; Bob Isherwood, former worldwide creative director of Saatchi & Saatchi; Sergei Kochkin, PhD, former executive director of the Better Hearing Institute; and Helle Østergaard, executive director of the Crown Princess Mary Foundation.



In no special order, here are theIda Institute staff’s top ten selections:

The Sing-a-Song Card: This inexpensive electronic card plays a tone ranging from silence to high-pitched noise. Users simply press a button on the card when they hear the tone being played. A red or green light indicates if the user has “heard correctly” or might benefit from a visit to a hearing care professional for a hearing check. Possible sponsors are hearing health organizations and corporations.

Raise Awareness Through Family Doctors: To promote hearing health and early hearing loss intervention, family physicians will be enlisted to routinely suggest a baseline hearing test for anyone 55 years or older. Physicians would write a prescription to encourage patients to follow through and audiologists would support the effort by conducting free hearing tests. This effort would be further supported with awareness-building tools tailored for use by allied health care professionals, nursing homes, families, schools, and other potential change agents.

Hearing Loss-Flavored Ice Cream: Why not present hearing loss in a positive context. Building on everyone’s love of ice cream, this idea suggests creating a unique “hearing loss” ice cream flavor to promote awareness, perhaps in partnership with a leading food manufacturer such as Ben and Jerry’s.

Deaf Statues: To raise awareness of hearing loss, a day would be designated when prominent statues and sculptures in parks, museums, and other public spaces worldwide would all wear hearing aids.

Eyes checked. Teeth checked. Ears checked: Inspired by the familiar image of the three foolish monkeys that see, hear, and speak no evil, this concept uses three wise monkeys to establish hearing checks as part of a standard wellness routine that also includes having one’s eyes and teeth checked regularly. The monkeys would be a visual reminder suitable for many media, including print and broadcast public service announcements, web sites, billboards, and posters on buses and trains.

The Hearing Environment Train: In this concept, a train with individual cars simulating a variety of sound environments would travel to busy locations, inviting people to step inside for an aural treat. Rather than focus on the negatives of hearing loss, the train would help people appreciate the many ways that hearing enhances their quality of life.

Art as a Medium for Change—The Sounds of Art Prize: This internationalcompetition wouldchallenge artists to interpret sound through painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, and other media in ways that would move and inspire individuals and communities. A traveling Sounds of Art Exhibition would take the best entries to cities and countries and encourage people to vote for a People’s Choice winner.

Monitor Your Risk from Using iPods et al.: This idea calls for a built-in monitoring device on personal listening devices to alert users when volumes reach levels that may damage hearing. A simple, easy-to-interpret system of green, yellow, and red lights would warn device users when volumes neared a risky level. All mobile phones/iPods and similar devices would also include package inserts detailing the danger of loud sounds to hearing.

Hairdressers as the First Line of Defense: Hairdressers and barbers have a unique relationship of trust with their clients that often makes them the first to notice a hearing loss and also ideally positions them to influence their clients to address hearing loss.

Young Ambassadors for Hearing Health: The idea here is to involve students of every age in cooperative initiatives that promote hearing health. Guided by college professors, graduate and undergraduate students work together to educate elementary and high school students about hearing healthcare, prevention and early diagnosis of hearing and communication disorders, auditory rehabilitation, and social inclusion of hearing-impaired children.

Go to to learn more and comment on the 10 top ideas.

Leave a Reply